A total of eight MINI ALL4 Racing cars will compete in one of the longest and most challenging off-road events in the world: the Dakar Rally.
Originally hosted in 1979, the annual event is classified as a “rally raid” — that is, a long distance, cross-country marathon run held over the course of several days. The Dakar is composed of hundreds of racers in a variety of classes wielding motorcycles, quads, trucks, and cars. It’s a grueling, two-week journey over thousands of miles of rough terrain; an epic test of both mechanical fortitude and human will. Simply finishing the event is a monumental accomplishment.
The original event was a race between Paris, France, and Dakar, Senegal, but organizers moved to South America in 2009 citing security concerns. However, the new location is no less punishing, as the upcoming rally will cover some 9,000 kilometers of dunes, mud, sand, rocks, gravel, and extreme altitudes across Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia.
If you think this sounds like the wrong event for a MINI, you’re incorrect. High-performance versions of the plucky vehicle have a streak going with three consecutive victories between 2012 and 2014. For the 2015 event taking place in early January, a total of eight MINI entrants will attempt to maintain the championship.
“Even with the most outstanding preparation, the Dakar remains a tremendous adventure with unforeseeable challenges and highly demanding tasks that all participants will have to master in order to succeed,” said Jochen Goller, Senior Vice President at MINI, in a press release. “With this in mind, we are more than pleased to enter the 2015 Dakar Rally with a professional, experienced team in our strategic partners of the X-raid Team, a highly competitive driver line-up and a proven winner in the Mini ALL4 Racing.”